April 14, 2011

Stages, Symptoms and Treatment For Lewy Body Dementia

Posted in Category : General Health

In the human brain, when structures of abnormal microscopic deposits of protein called Lewy bodies disrupt the brain’s normal functions and lead to its deterioration, the condition is termed Lewy body dementia. About 10% of older adults in the age group of 50 to 85 are susceptible to develop type of dementia. Those with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) symptoms in their childhood are found to be a major risk group that is more likely to have Lewy body dementia.

Lewy body dementia treatment can start once the patient and the care givers recognize the signs of the disease and list out the classic pre-clinical signs such as olfactory deficits, hallucinations, rapid eye movement during sleep, and fluctuations in cognitive functions, and so on. Symptoms of Lewy body dementia can be very similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, making its diagnosis extremely tricky. To understand what is Lewy body dementia, it must be remembered that symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s often overlap, but hallucinations that may be visual, auditory, olfactory or touch-related are often very vivid in patients with Lewy body dementia. An MRI scan to measure the degree of brain atrophy may be used to make the diagnosis of Lewy body dementia and distinguish it from vascular dementia, whose symptoms are similar.

Lewy body dementia stages are not as clearly marked as in other types of dementia. Problems in movement and loss of balance may occur suddenly in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) patients. Swallowing becomes difficult for patients in the advanced stages of the disease, and this might lead to poor nutrition. Since it is a progressively degenerative disorder, Lewy body dementia prognosis is not very encouraging, and there is no known cure for the disease. Retrieval of information from memory may be poor, and depression is common among DLB patients.

Despite a less encouraging Lewy body dementia prognosis, treatment started early can benefit patients by managing the symptoms and counseling lifestyle changes to cope with the effects of the disease. Medication can successfully relieve symptoms of sleep disorders and physiotherapy and adequate exercise can help reduce muscle rigidity and stiffness. Caregivers of patients with Lewy body dementia may find that the patient’s ability to take decisions, execute tasks, or find their way from one place or another varies day by day. A patient who talks normally and recalls memories easily one day may display inattention and lack of focus during a conversation the next day, or even hours later. Regardless of Lewy body dementia stages, symptoms such as inexplicable fainting, progressive loss of mental functioning, and inability to think and reason out in a particular situation, while solving a problem or while navigating one’s way around a known place, can be alarming to the family of the patient, particularly when they alternate with periods of clarity and alertness .

Reducing caffeine consumption, including a variety of physical activities during the day, and appropriate relaxation techniques can lead to better and undisturbed sleep patterns. Neuropsychological testing done periodically can help plan the treatment by measuring effectiveness of medication in arresting the deterioration of cognitive abilities. Life expectancy for patients with Lewy body dementia is on average seven years after diagnosis of the disease, but patients may live longer, depending on their medical condition, age, and fitness levels. Although the causes of Lewy bodies dementia are unknown, certain hereditary factors, albeit rarely, may contribute to the early onset of the disorder in some people. Further, mutations found in the GBA gene in patients with Lewy body dementia are forty times higher than those found in people without this disease.